by Bert Bartlett
Pierre Thomas. Reggie Bush. Roman Harper. Darren Sharper. Now post- season hero Tracey Porter (for awhile). And special teamer Chris Reis (year). These hearts and souls of the team have been cut out of the title pictures, then or now. Numerous others are limited or are missing practice. Drew Brees has a brace on his left knee. Officially, and woefully, the Saints are big time Banged Up. If there is a positive spin of any kind, it’s that the spate of injuries occurred this early in the season.
With the absence of some familiar faces on Sunday, the winless Panthers were in it to win it. Carolina head coach John Fox was right at home on his sideline in the Superdome, directing traffic like a cop at the corner of Loyola and Poydras. Quite a lane was cleared for running back DeAngelo Williams. As the clock wound down, rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen had the Panthers in position to drive his team to a game ending field goal. Not Again! The Saints defensive stand was hardly great but plenty good enough, more worthy of the old cheer in high school stands, Push ‘Em Back, Push ‘Em Back… Harder! Harder!
With the pink trim décor in the stadium in the good cause of the NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week, the affair still somehow seemed a bit, well, kinky, particularly as it suddenly took on the pall and urgency of a must win against a paltry opponent, so that New Orleans would not lose it’s second consecutive divisional game at home.
With repeated finishes like ‘dis, it’s no surprise there’s a small but discernible underground coterie of Who ‘Dat Nation that refuses to watch or listen to a Saints game, though no less interested in the outcome. These citizens prefer to listen to the sounds (or lack thereof) made by the neighbors, watch it on the news, or read about it in the paper the next day. Can you blame them?
Certainly, since opening night, the repeated drops made by the corps of Saints receivers have been worth avoiding for all concerned. Drew Brees’ completion rate could be 80 instead of a stellar 74. Stones Of The Saints is this page’s intended moniker for the offensive line, not the hands of those trying to catch the ball. Last season, receivers coach Curtis Johnson had success with Devery Henderson, having him catch handkerchiefs after practice. Now, in the interest of rediscovering soft hands, the coach should toss all of them lots of water balloons. Until these vacant minds get tighter, expect the offense to continue to run on low octane. Enough of ‘Dis!
As doctors and trainers work overtime on Airline Drive, and with the league’s trade deadline for the season looming, perhaps the front office should deal for some utility types to try and keep the plane flying at Cessna altitude, instead of Boeing, until some people mend. Napoleonville, Louisiana native Brandon Jacobs was said to be at odds with Giants management in his limited role as battering ram running back. Though his carries may not increase here, it sure would bring some immediate north/south direction to the ground game. You think the real Stones wouldn’t get excited with him back there, bringing the lumber? Aw well, ‘tis likely but a dream…..
Though any opponent on the schedule has and should be expected to continue to bring their A Game when playing the Saints, the Arizona Cardinals may just be the antidote the Black & Blue needs right now. The Cards will not resemble who they were in January, with Kurt Warner retired, nor will Reggie Bush excitedly run out on the field with a baseball bat. All-star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is liable to run wild through the Saints’ depleted secondary, even if another rookie starts at quarterback for them. Given them being wafer thin at the position, it is peculiar that they gave up this early on former USC signal caller Matt Leinhart, now a backup in Houston. It’s not like he had turned into a JaMarcus Russell, just yet anyway. This set of birds has nipped the Rams and Raiders, and has been ripped, by 07 and 10 to 41, by the Falcons and Chargers, indicating a lack of heart. Like young men, the Saints simply need to go west, to the Valley of the Sun, act like devil’s advocates, and stab it.
Now, a video suitable for Souls Of The Saints: